Barley. Yes…barley…not in its eminently quaffable form of “beer” but in its hulled mild mannered Clark Kentish form sourced from the bottom shelf of the supermarket ensuring that marketers have checked it out and found it severely wanting and stored with the humblest of shelf mates, the dried beans and the soup mixes. Who would know where to find barley in their supermarkets unless they regularly made rich hearty soups? I have recently taken to eating barley in the form of pilaffs. Aside from being incredibly delicious and filling when combined with roasted root vegetables and garlic, I have discovered on my researching travels that barley is more than it’s humble components might lead us to believe. Far-be-it from being a one trick pony in the production of fermentation and alcohol, it was one of our very first grains and many worldly cultures have survived thanks to the cultivation and use of barley. I went hunting for a recipe for barley water. I remembered both of my grandmother’s lauding the benefits of humble barley water and making it whenever they were under the weather. I am not talking about the lemon barley water that you can buy from the supermarket but barley simmered in water for about 30 minutes, drained and the resulting liquid drunk. You get the added bonus of cooked barley that you can use in all sorts of recipes. On further research I learned that barley is an amazing grain, full of soluble fibre, nutrients and with all sorts of benefits especially for women and type 2 diabetes suffers…I also found a fantastic recipe for bread made from barley.
This website gives a really interesting rundown of barley, its nutrients, composition and who and what it is good for
And here is a recipe that looked really delicious for barley bread with the added bonus of a video should you feel like you need further instruction
Sometimes I find something out that is worth sharing with you all and this ancient and much maligned grain is just such a sippet. I now include barley a few times a week and am planning to increase it to my predominate grain after finding recipes for barley breakfast cereal.
I have been undertaking an experiment in weight management that I started after my mother died in January this year. Mum was plagued with health problems and there is nothing like a parent dying to remind you of your own mortality. I had a good look at my own diet and the state of my health and decided that it was time to make a few changes. I decided to end my lifelong dieting habit. No more feeling guilty about “breaking my diet”…no more exponentially growing lists of foods that I couldn’t eat (making them the focus of my desires) and no more damaging my health with yo-yo dieting. Instead, I gave up dieting, I gave up eating food that was nutritionally poor and I gave up processed food. Up till today I have been “undieting” for 5 months and in that time I have had no cravings, I haven’t felt the need to binge eat anything, I have never had to resort to using my will power once and I have lost a total of 15kg with absolutely NO effort whatsoever. I am completely baffled by this, but I have never felt so good about losing weight. There are no “start dates”, “end dates” or worrying about how to eat after I stop existing on a single food and I now totally ignore all of the “latest” and “greatest” dieting secrets because they are all bollocks. To anyone out there reading this blog post who has a weight problem that just won’t budge, give it a go. It’s incredibly liberating and completely attainable. It’s dieting that makes you fat.
I am SO over roosters it’s not funny! We started out buying (what we thought were…) 8 hens and were assured by the seller that they were all hens…we got Big Yin. I have NO problem with Big Yin as he is an incredibly good rooster and he will be living on Serendipity Farm until he passes away of natural causes but my problem started with the romantic (and incredibly stupid) idea that it would be nice to allow our hens to reproduce. I am a savvy person and figured that more chickens = more eggs and so against Steve’s better judgment (oh WHY didn’t I listen to Steve!) we drove hundreds of kilometres to a tiny town to buy 2 dozen fertile eggs. Again we were hoodwinked by the seller and the eggs were NOT what she told us they were when it came to the breed that she represented. We ended up with all sorts of hens and roosters and we just killed the last rooster from that batch a few weeks ago. The main problem has been Houdini our amazing mother hen who chooses to raise her babies out in the wild and leave them there after a month of intensive mothering to re-join her sisters in the coop. These 2 batches of feral chickens are as close to wild chooks as you can get in Sidmouth Tasmania and live in a large overgrown conifer just off the driveway near our home. Houdini’s initial hatching resulted in 4 hens and a single rooster. We dispatched “Little Red” due to his incessant crowing with respect to our neighbours. Little Red wasn’t causing our other girls any problems and I felt quite bad dispatching him. Houdini’s last feral hatching resulted in 7 babies. Out of this batch we got 4 roosters and 3 hens. The 4 roosters in this batch have just reached sexual maturity and are all crowing and wreaking havoc in our small chook ecosystem and so they have to go. Not only is the ringleader spending his days hiding from Big Yin (his dad) knowing full well that he is going to cop a hiding should he show his reprobate head, but he is attacking poor Bob who only just got over being repeatedly targeted by the last rooster that we dispatched. I have NO idea why Bob is such a sexy chook! She is smaller than the rest and it would seem that every single rooster that matures wants to take a shot at poor Bob. Steve found a fair amount of feathers (that she had just started to grow back) plucked out underneath the deck (where the terrorist hides in waiting…) and so tonight has changed from a nice easy Zelda Skyward Sword playing night to mass rooster genocide. We are going to try to kill/cull as many of the 4 roosters as we can reach tonight and then we have Effel’s babies to wait and see who crows and I am totally and utterly DONE with breeding… roosters and all things crowing and raping. As soon as I notice a clucky hen I will be removing her eggs and tossing her into the chook equivalent of jail (their enclosed outside coop area). If I miss one (like Houdini) I will wait for her to hatch her babies and we will collect them all at night and integrate them into the coop. It’s a whole lot easier to dispatch roosters from the coop at night than it is to be climbing conifers in the dark and hoping that you grabbed the right chicken!
Our friend who cannot be named dropped us off some firewood and a couple of skinned and gutted wallabies for the dogs the other day. I should have removed the meat and given it to my oldest daughter who loves all things kangaroo from way back. The meat is very lean and needs to be cooked with bacon or casseroled/stewed to ensure that it doesn’t get too dry. The 2 wallabies that we got yielded a large 4 litre icecream container full of badly butchered meat along with 2 meaty carcasses that the feral cats and crows have had a ball with out on the lawn for the last couple of days. The wallabies hung in a bag in the shed for the first day because we were too busy to deal with them and with it being so cold it was perfectly safe for them to do so. Both Bezial and Earl were very excited to be watching me butcher the wallabies and were eagerly awaiting a taste of fresh wallaby. I cut both begging boys a small piece of the very light coloured meat and Earl ate his piece with glee and Bezial spat it out with a most comical “this aint chicken!” look on his face. He must have been under the impression that we had killed some chickens and left them in a bag as both he and Earl get benefits from our rooster killing “events”. The look of surprise was quite comical and Bezial is NOT a fan of wallaby and refused to even consider eating any more. Earl on the other hand was totally enamoured of it and will be getting the 3 large bags of wallaby meat for his tea for a few nights to come. If we are offered any more wallabies we will take them gratefully. Earl and my daughter will both get some (I promise I will butcher it for you Madeline!) to play with and we will benefit from what our friend has to do to keep her garden wallaby free. We are still using the firewood that she gave us as well and we are swapping a pile of old steel and metal that was left on the property with her partner for more wood…barter rules!
Steve and I are undertaking a unit in model building at the moment with our course. Our poor long suffering lecturer had to take on the job of teaching me how to do everything to do with building. I am not known for constructing pergola’s and thank goodness Steve comes from a building background as otherwise we might still be attempting to make our 1/5th scale model of a pergola next year. I actually had a lot of fun and have learned to ignore my immediate desire to panic as soon as I get out of my comfort zone. I give it the “Old college try” now and have learned that failure is always an option and indeed, often the result but that’s where ground zero learning takes place and wherever learning is…so am I! I learned to use a chisel…I learned how to use a chalk stringline… I learned how to do all sorts of things and am now a wiser and richer person for the experience. I am sure that if our lecturer was showing Steve how to make a model Steve would have had the entire thing done and his second model also completed on the day that we had our lecture and I know that I slowed the process down incredibly but wisdom sometimes comes slowly and I was quite proud of my efforts in the joint project. The next model will be constructed by Steve and I with only a plan to go by and our lecturer will have nothing to do with it. Should our lecturer throw us a curve ball like “dovetail joints”, “steps” or “doors” he might end up with something a little more interesting than he initially would have thought, but you know what? This little black duck is no longer scared to try and THAT my friends is a mighty big milestone for me. Steve and I met up with a fellow Western Australian a few years ago when we were getting some timber cut for us at Bunning’s. Leighman is part hippy and all great guy and we often see him out and about and end up having a bit of a chat. He is most interested in what we are interested in regarding sustainability and economical food production. We ran into him when we were shopping and he mentioned to us that a fellow worker at Bunning’s was doing the Landscape Architect course at university that Steve and I are going to undertake soon. He said that his friend was having a great time and really enjoying it. That gives us a degree of hope that we might actually be able to get something out of this course. Polytechnic/TAFE is a great alternative to university because you pay as you go and in Tasmania, if you are unemployed, your fees are capped at $275 a year no matter what you choose to study making education an extremely viable way to avoid the Centrelink queue whilst improving yourself and making yourself “job ready” at the same time. University may be a lot more prestigious than Polytechnic/TAFE but it comes with a substantially larger price tag and an ensuing H.E.C.K.’s debt for anyone choosing to take this path. Steve and I are well aware that Tasmania is NOT the place to be unemployed in your 40’s and so we are doing what we can to give us the best chance of being able to start our own business in the future. My latent desire to become a mycologist may just follow on from this initial degree and I have plans to take some permaculture courses as well. I would never have thought that I would be comfortable with all of this studying but there is something very satisfying about learning and I was born to research.
Steve is preparing his rooster killing kit. We are going to attempt to dispatch the 4 young newly matured roosters tonight because even though we may be killing the offending rooster tonight, as soon as he is gone, the next rooster will step up to take off where he left off. Once we are able to remove the roosters from the scene, peace can return (until Effel’s babies start to crow and it starts all over again). I really don’t like killing things and I don’t imagine that there are too many vegetarians out there slaughtering their own roosters, but again…if you take on the responsibility of raising chickens it’s like an iceberg…there is a WHOLE LOT under the surface that you don’t learn about until it’s too late and you are committed to looking after them. Both Earl and Bezial are well aware that its rooster killing time. They must sense our apprehension and should know it well by now as these roosters will be 8 through to 11 in the history of rooster dispatching on Serendipity Farm. For 2 city slickers who couldn’t face killing flies it has certainly been an eye opening journey. I guess I think of the poor long suffering hens that have had to put up with these reprobates and their behaviour towards our egg futures and it makes it a little bit easier to deal with. I think I will think about poor semi plucked Bob who has had a pretty rough trot of it for the last 3 months or so and it will definitely ease my guilt. Consider us 2 city slickers who have most definitely learned their lesson!
Steve here. We are back and that wasn’t fun but we have killed the 4 roosters that we had to and we are now in the process of dealing with them to make some food for me and the boys. Yin will be a lot happier in the morning and so will poor little Bob. We are getting faster and have realised that that was easier because we had no attachment to them at all. Ok Fran is letting me pick the pictures today as she is now busy for a little and then we have to feed us so I will say bye all and thanks for dropping by and watching us get roosters from the conifer and to the table. A few more wishbone which I’m sure we will get very soon and Fran will have some new designer jewellery. Now if we can just work out what to do with feathers we will be good any suggestions.